The Roundup: Summer 2014 Volume 11

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In this week’s installment…

The season is almost over and many of our Roundup shows are coming to an end. We say goodbye to favorites like Sabagebu! and HaNaYaMaTa, and a considerably less fond “see you later” to Aldnoah.Zero.

The Roundup is a weekly guide to all the “other” shows we’re watching this season. Check out our full, weekly coverage of:

Blue Spring Ride – Hunter x Hunter – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders – Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun – Sailor Moon Crystal – Space Dandy – Sword Art Online II – Terror in Resonance – Hanamonogatari

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Glasslip
Episode 12

Thursdays 11:00 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Marlin

Marlin: Okay then. I guess if seeing into the future was always a part of the gimmick then weird It’s a Wonderful Life kinda situations aren’t totally out there. It’s still kinda out there considering the weird fragments of the future was before now a lot more limited in scope, but I imagine the show was just going for maximum impact. The only thing I just don’t get is how this alternate future would happen in the first place. Kakeru said both parts of his family were always moving. What could have changed about his past that suddenly his father and mother are able to stay in the same place? Might remind you that she is still apparently a world-class pianist, a profession that by necessity requires constant travel. I still don’t even get what the point of all of it was. Kakeru acted like it was just some dream world Touko could activate. If so, I don’t really understand its bearing on the plot other than to just keep the weird time travel stuff relevant.
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Argevollen
Episode 12

Thursdays 11:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Gee

Gee: After last week’s reveals, We get the inevitable flashback episode to how it all went down. As everyone suspected, Tokimune’s sister was the original pilot for the prototype Argevollen, where she met Samonji and Suzushiro. As you would expect a flashback about unstable prototypes to go, things go poorly resulting in the death of Tokimune’s sister. As we all also expected, Samonji blames himself for not stopping her even though it really isn’t her fault. Overall, the reveal pulls a classic Gundam-era trope of revealing the seedier elements of the good guy faction while giving our heroes their midpoint crisis to motivate them. I will say, I greatly appreciate that the drama surrounding this flashback was settled in a single episode as next week’s preview looks like a return to form. Overall, Argevollen wasn’t exactly the best thing I watched this season, but it’s done an admirable line of straddling that line of mediocrity with just enough flashes of brilliance that I may very well see this through to the end.
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Locodol
Episode 12

Thursdays 3:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Jel, MarlinTimmy

Marlin: I’m not quite sure why this wasn’t the finale episode. It had all the hallmarks of a good climax, and we even finally get some character growth from Nanako. Every bit of how this episode was set up would seem to imply that the arc is done and there’ really nothing more to be said. The girls didn’t win, but they sang their hearts out, and did their best, and in the end that’s all they wanted. I did love the little callback to the Uncle’s musical talents at the end there, it’s too bad he didn’t just go straight back to his grunge phase. I suppose I wouldn’t mind another episode, but after this anything else feels like it’s going to be lackluster in comparison.
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Locodol – They’re not Lady

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Aldnoah.Zero
Episode 12 (END of Season 1)

Saturdays 1:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: AquagazeDragonzigg, EuricaeriS, Gee,  Iro, Marlin, Timmy

Aqua: It’s been half a week since I sat in front of my screen, not knowing whether to applaud in admiration or erupt into desperate laughter. Theoretically, this was a phenomenal final episode, with a shocking twist that doesn’t exactly come out of nowhere if you consider Slaine’s previous character… err, ‘development’. Furthermore, I’m glad to see the show give its atrocious main character the comeuppance he deserves. Yet because this is still Aldnoah.Zero we’re talking about, the shocking ending can only happen after a bunch of characters make one moronic decision after another. The puerile shock factor and clumsy delivery elevate the absurdly hyper-violent slaughterhouse at the end of this first half to near caricature Game of Thrones levels of killing characters off to please a presumed brain-dead audience that confuses character death with quality writing. With virtually every character with any sort of characterization dead, Aldnoah.Zero won’t be able to credibly continue its already half-assed story for another 12 episodes to save its life. If this were a different show, a twist like this might’ve actually made me excited. But Aldnoah.Zero has proven time after time again that it will be utterly incapable of delivering on it.

Gee: Prior to Aldnoah.Zero’s airing, an interview from one of the staff said that their goal was to create a work that could live up to the legacy of Gundam and become a new part of the mecha zeitgeist. In some ways, Aldnoah has certainly done that. If you compare it to the likes of Gundam Seed, it has most certainly succeeded at reaching such ignoble lows. This week’s episode was like the writers suddenly decided they wanted Urobuchi to come back, but they couldn’t get him so they just made something up that seemed like it’d be something Urobuchi would write. Between the clumsy reveals, the imbecilic actions of the entire cast, and the overall derailment of the entire narrative, Aldnoah.Zero is right there with the likes of Valvrave for complete trainwrecks of the mecha genre. It is shameful how offensively poor it has been, and with the utterly abominable developments of its season finale, I suppose its sheer shock value will earn it some watchers come January. Considering the fanfare it has received from other corners of the anime fandom, I’d love to hear why exactly people can tolerate and even enjoy something that is so immediately repugnant to a mecha fan like me because I simply cannot rationalize it, much as I try. And unless January 2015 is a veritable wasteland of anime offerings, I don’t believe I will continue to try. Aldnoah.Zero is yet another bullet point in my sinking bitterness as a mecha fan over what my favorite genre has become.

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Sabagebu! – Seems as good a final image as any for this show

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Sabagebu!
Episode 12 (END)

Sundays 11:00 am on Crunchyroll

Watching: Aquagaze, GeeJelMarlinTimmy

Gee: In the words of Kayo herself, being chased by the government? Allies and rivals returning to help in our heroes’ time of need? A glorious last stand? Sabagebu piles on a finale so overwrought and ridiculous that you can’t help but love it. Seeing everyone in action was a gratifying crowd pleaser and overall, it was almost kind of satisfying to see Momoka not act like a petty psychopath for once. But even the last third, in its predictably crass manner, was like the show winking and reminding us that Sabagebu isn’t about to resort to some heartfelt drama at the finish line. And in some ways, it very much surpasses its equally (but differently) insane predecessor, C3. I don’t what it is, but I’m grateful that Sabagebu decided to wholeheartedly embrace its absurdity. It’s the kind of show everyone will forget about within months, but like Nobunagun, it’s these kind of one-off wonders that come out of nowhere that remind me why I enjoy watching anime.
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HaNaYaMaTa
Episode 12 (END)

Mondays 1:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: AquagazeMarlin

Aquagaze: Call me a sucker, but this finale hit all the right notes for me. Realistic drama that doesn’t step out of line, heartwarming moments galore and more cathartic dancing than you can shake a stick at, HaNaYaMaTa pulls out all the stops for its satisfying final episode. The directing is as top-notch as ever, almost making me not notice the blatant attempts to not have to anime too much dancing. That doesn’t mean the episode isn’t absolutely jaw-dropping though, as Atsuko Ishizuka’s fantastic use of colour, lighting and flower motives shine through in every scene. Every character arc gets a neat little conclusion, and there is no yosakoi club member left underdeveloped as a result. In the end, HaNaYaMaTa has wholesomely succeeded in everything it ever set out to be, combining delightful quirkiness, surprisingly solid character development and artistic value into a sleeper hit that can easily rank amongst the overpopulated genre’s best.

Marlin: Of course Hannah was gonna make it just in time, it wouldn’t be a feelgood club show if she didn’t. As improbable it was that Hannah somehow got from Jersey to Japan in two days with zero notice and without any jetlag, it made a nice capstone to the development we’ve had since episode one. I especially like that Naru was finally acting confident for herself, not just for others. I’d argue it seems super fishy that they could just snap back from their practiced four girl choreography to the old five woman band, but I’ll allow the show that one discrepancy as the final scene was stunning. The dancing segments were showy in the best way possible, and you know things always get better when you get into the second verse of an OP song. It wasn’t my favorite show of the season, but HaNaYaMaTa had a lot of heart, and anyone who enjoys the cute girls doing cute things genre would be done a disservice by missing out.

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Barakamon
Episode 12

Simulcast Pending on Funimation Saturdays 9:00 pm CET on Crunchyroll

(Europe only, except UK and Ireland)

Watching: Aquagaze, EuricaeriS, Marlin

Aquagaze: Sensei’s trip back to Tokyo could’ve turned out a lot worse, as in stead of focusing on a bunch of ham-fisted drama and angst back at the island, the episode mostly centers around Sensei being his usual overdramatic self and trying to adjust back to life in the capital. It leads to some pretty entertaining gags and one particularly heartwarming phone call, while Kyousuke gets to make a welcome return for some, err… physical hilarity. Even the calligraphy subplot actually gets the chance to develop properly, leading to a surprisingly strong penultimate episode. Here’s hoping Barakamon can keep this up.

5 thoughts on “The Roundup: Summer 2014 Volume 11

  1. After Gee’s comments regarding Aldnoah.Zero, I’m wondering if many non-mecha fans may have enjoyed the show a bit more? I’m not arguing that the show has plenty of flaws, but having read this post, I now find myself curious about whether people watching the series primarily because of its genre were more likely to be disappointed in Aldnoah.Zero than those who were watching it mostly for other reasons. Thoughts?

    • I have only watched a few mecha shows here and there, but I have no experience with the Gundam franchise, and I still find Aldnoah mostly boring and trite. I have an overall general distaste for military tropes and technobabble, though, and those happen to show up in mecha anime by default. Most of the mecha shows I like strongly deviate from the norm, like Evangelion or Star Driver. I watched this show for its staff, and ended up massively disappointed just as much (let alone misled).

    • My issues with Aldnoah were usually gripes with the basic storytelling, but one could say that its problems stood out more because it was otherwise a pretty standard mecha show. It’s more obvious when it does something poorly because other mecha shows have used similar concepts more effectively.

  2. Aldnoah.Zero: Learn an entire new cast? meh.

    Sabagebu!: This show was a delight. I’ve never really watched anything like it but it was one of the only gems this summer. That Urara bday present…..haha

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